witty | escapist | moreish
what it says on the cover …
The second novel in the record-breaking, million-copy bestselling Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman.
It’s the following Thursday.
Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.
As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?
But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?
PUBLISHED: 16th September 2021
SHELF: Murder Mystery | Humour
AUTHOR: Richard Osman
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books
FORMATS: Hardback | Kindle | AudioBook
Thank you to #NetGalley and @PenguinUKBooks for this advance-proof kindle copy of #TheManWhoDiedTwice by @richardosman
my review …
I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to The Man Who Died Twice. So keen was I, that I opened my kindle copy immediately after finishing The Thursday Murder Club … the only gap between the two was the time taken to boil the kettle and make a fresh cup of tea. I’m not too sure the characters would have approved of my choice of refreshment though; they would have been far more likely to reach for a glass of red, or a generous double G&T. They may be living in Coopers Chase retirement village but they’re still not showing any signs of slipping into a genteel dotage.
“I am learning that it is important to stop sometimes, and just have a drink and a gossip with friends, even as corpses start to pile up around you. Which they have been doing a lot recently. It’s a balancing act, of course, but, by and large, the corpses will still be there in the morning, and you mustn’t let it spoil your Domino’s.”
The Man Who Died Twice picks up one week after the end of The Thursday Murder Club, and the gang have been filling their days productively; examining one of their contraband cold case murder files, joining Instagram (Joyce), considering rehoming a dog (also Joyce), and doing their daily bit for Kent’s wine consumption tally (everyone). But there’s a new mystery afoot … a cloak-and-dagger letter from a dead man in Elizabeth’s spook-past, hand delivered, and containing an irresistible invitation. And so begins a cracking new escapade for Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron.
This new caper is a significant step-up for the indomitable foursome; they’re now fraternising with secret agents, the New York mafia, cold-blooded assassins, and a shady gangster-middleman. Whilst safe houses, death threats and dead letter drops are bread-and-butter work for Elizabeth, the gleeful excitement of Joyce and Ron are delightfully contagious. Ibrahim’s enthusiasm, however, is somewhat subdued as he struggles to recover from a nasty mugging.
PC Donna De Freitas and DCI Chris Hudson are still very much part of the story, investigating Ibrahim’s attack, and turning a blind eye when Elizabeth takes advantage of her unexpected MI5/marital reunion for a spot of elegant vigilante-esque justice. For the majority of the book Donna and Chris’s storyline runs independently to the central plot as they strive to gather evidence against Fairhaven’s drug baroness, Connie Johnson; a character whose appearances in the story are brimming with personality and humour. But through some canny brokering, Elizabeth and co manage to draw their police pals into the murderous spook caper.
With £20m worth of diamonds, and £10k of cocaine, changing hands faster than a trinket under three paper cups, this is a plot that keeps every single one of its characters very much on their toes. Thanks to the scheming of the Murder Clubbers, the case’s conclusion resembles an unlikely hybrid of Poirot-meets-OK-Corral, as characters of varying shades of dubiousness get caught out by a cat’s-cradle of double crosses and subterfuge.
Thanks to Ron’s eight year-old grandson, Kendrick, Ibrahim’s nature shines through some truly delightful scenes – he may be too scared to leave the safety of his flat, but Kendrick and Ron keep Ibrahim’s contribution to the plot at the forefront of my most enjoyable moments. Joyce remains a cheeky-wink of a character, generously flirtatious, and continuing to express her affection through gifts; this time in the form of knitted, sequinned friendship bracelets of questionable appeal. But it’s really Elizabeth who gets to stretch her legs most notably in this story; her marriage to Stephen is heart-warming and poignant, not rocked in slightest by the sudden arrival of her ex-husband, Douglas, no matter how much trouble he brings with him.
Once again, I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent with Richard Osman’s beautifully created retirees. The Man Who Died Twice is a smooth continuation of the gently-paced mystery, pitch-perfect characters, and vivid scenarios, all wrapped up in impeccably keen humour. The affection between the characters spills off the page with all the feel-good escapism of a truly enjoyable novel. More please!
Richard Osman lives in London, and is an author, producer, and television presenter. His first novel, The Thursday Murder Club, was a #1 million-copy international bestseller. The Man Who Died Twice is his second novel.
Having studied Politics and Sociology at Trinity College, Cambridge, Richard is a well-known personality of British television, producing Deal or No Deal, and appealing in programmes such as Have I Got News For You, and QI. But he’s arguably best known for co-presenting the BBC quiz show Pointless with Alexander Armstrong. He has also written several quiz and trivia books, including A Pointless History of the World (2016).